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Cicerone heroics save UB in WMU draw

You can only hope to contain him


Confession: I started to lose faith in Russell Cicerone. He had been quiet, along with the whole UB Men’s Soccer team, the last few games, stuck on 11 goals for the season. With time winding down tonight and the Bulls trailing Western Michigan 1-0, he had only a single shot on the night.

But no one in the MAC has found late dramatic more over the last three years than Buffalo, and no one draws late dramatics out of future pro Cicerone like Western Michigan. With less than a minute to play in regulation, Cicerone soared above a crowded penalty area to head in an Alec Fisher cross and equalize on a rainy Friday. It was Cicerone’s third career goal against Western Michigan. None came earlier than the 89th minute, and each either equalized or won the match for UB.

Cicerone MSOC WMU 2016

The Fisher connection is notable too, as Alec, along with Cicerone and Steven Stryker, is among the group that originally committed to play for Stu Riddle in Kalamazoo before following him here to Buffalo. With one final postseason matchup possible, the group sits 1-2-2 against WMU in their career, but with the better of the dramatic with 2015’s tournament win and late comebacks in 2016 and 2014.

A draw seems fair tonight, but Western deserved the lead earned in the 66th, enjoying the front foot and the better shots on frame. Joe Kuta needed to make two big saves early in the first half to keep UB out of a quick hole, and the game was more often gritty and defensive than either team threatened.

Fox Slotemaker -- his fourth — and Daniel Cramarossa — his second — each picked up yellows tonight for the Bulls. As far as I’m concerned, Fox should be eager to pick up another in UB’s next match against Northern Illinois so he will be forced to sit out against Oral Roberts instead of missing the MAC finale or a MAC Tournament match.

With only two conference matches left, it’s time of course to start looking at postseason possibilities and seeding. UB-WVU was the only MAC match tonight, with the other four teams partnering up tomorrow. We’ll check in more tomorrow evening, but the Bulls absolutely control their own destiny and sit in good shape with two home matches remaining.